Arakan Army Seizes Weapons From Regime’s Police Force in Rakhine

By The Irrawaddy 28 June 2021

Ethnic armed group the Arakan Army (AA) has seized weapons from junta police deployed on the grounds of the sacred Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Kyauktaw, Rakhine State.

AA troops surrounded the temporary police outpost at the temple at around 1am on Sunday and disarmed the more than 20 police officers from the Mrauk-U police battalion who were staying there, according to a Kyauktaw resident who lives near the pagoda.

“It is said that the AA has repeatedly warned against stationing junta forces at the temple. Pilgrims are too afraid to visit the pagoda because of their presence. So the AA troops surrounded the police and took their guns around 1am on Sunday. But the police officers were unharmed,” the resident told The Irrawaddy.

AA spokesman Khaing Thukha said, “There were some problems near the Mahamuni Temple. But the two sides have resolved them through negotiations. There is no problem for the time being.”

He declined to give details and also did not comment on the AA’s alleged seizure of arms from the police at the temple.

As well as pilgrims, the vendors who normally set up shop at the pagoda have shunned it for fear that they might be interrogated.

“There was no fighting and we didn’t hear gunfire. We heard that arms were seized. Locals don’t like them staying on the pagoda grounds. We don’t know if they [AA] did that in response to public wishes or because of something else. Only they know what happened,” said a resident.

The AA and Myanmar’s military have observed an unofficial ceasefire since November last year. But with no official agreement between the two sides, locals are concerned that fresh fighting could break out at any time in Rakhine State.

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